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10/05/08 3:19 PM ET

Evan Longoria pregame interview

Rookie third baseman discusses Pena's return, playoffs

Joe was just in here talking about Rays fans in Chicago. Have you run into any? What have they said to you so far today?

EVAN LONGORIA: I haven't had the chance to see any Rays fans. I've seen a few jackets and hats running around at our hotel, but, you know, I'm sure they're excited. It's good to see support especially coming up north.

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I know the other night you went to the USF football game, you get shown on national TV. How has your life changed with the season you've had, the success you've had, the attention you've gotten when you go out, give us an idea how it's changed?

EVAN LONGORIA: Obviously it's a different style now. You got to kind of watch what you do, where you go, and things you say. Especially to the media and people out on the street. You just got to watch what you do.

But it's changed for the better, I'd say. You know, there are a lot more benefits when you go out. Get reservations at places and stuff like that. That becomes a little easier. But it's been a pleasant experience.

Getting Pena back today what's that going to do for you guys since he has been around the first two games. Pena changes the whole dynamic of our lineup. He is a huge bat right in the middle. So it will be a little tougher for Ozzie to manage, trying to manage around Pena's bat.

EVAN LONGORIA: He does a lot for the guy in front of him and the guy behind him. Just as far as the pitches that we get, and the way that everybody throughout the lineup is pitched.

So he is a huge lift in our lineup. And, you know, not only that, but at first base, I mean, he's been great for us all year there, too. So he is huge.

How has the postseason -- we talk so much in those couple days off you guys had, the game might be faster, more intense. Now that you have played a couple and had a chance to reflect on that, how different was it?

EVAN LONGORIA: I would say it's different but not a whole, whole heck of a lot different. I mean, the intensity of the game and just the energy in the stands is a lot different. But, I mean, as you know the game it's still a baseball game. And as players, we're able to control that and really control our emotions.

So it's been exciting but as far as my level of, you know, enthusiasm, I guess, it's been pretty much the same and I've been able to kind of keep it even keel.

I was wondering if you watched the Sox-Twins game. What your impressions were of Danks and what your approach will be against him today?

EVAN LONGORIA: Yeah I did watch most of that game. He's been really good down the stretch. And he's a competitor. So we pretty much know what we're going to get. And I know he's going to go out there and give his team the best chance possible to win. So we're in for a battle. And, you know, our approach is gonna be the same as we've taken against him in the past couple and just try to center him up and hit the ball the other way as we do against most lefties.

A great deal of people speak about your enthusiasm, when you get into a funk like most ball players do at different times, is there somebody you go to level you out back? Who is that person, and why?

EVAN LONGORIA: For the most part I've gone to Eric Hinske and Cliff Floyd just because, you know, as veteran players they have the most input as far as, you know, what they've gone through in their playing careers and what's gotten them right.

I'd say along with them our hitting coach Steve Henderson just because he's been there, done that, and he's got a lot of advice as far as hitting goes.

So those three guys. And along with Joe, Joe will sit me down sometimes and just tell me to relax and take things the way they are and really just try to play the game the way I've played it all year and that usually helps.

Ozzie Guillen's approach was to push Gavin Floyd back and throw as many left handers at you guys as he can find. That's a strategy you guys have seen in the past and will probably continue to see. What are your thoughts about the Rays' vulnerability to left-handed pitching?

EVAN LONGORIA: I mean, that's just the that's just the consensus on, you know, I guess, a left handed heavy line up. That's just what everybody does. I mean, lefty on lefty is obviously a tougher match up than a lefty righty. So we expect to see it. Like you said, we've seen it throughout the stretch run that we had there in September. And I'm sure we'll continue to see it.

But, I mean, I think our guys have become a lot better at hitting lefties just because of the fact that we've seen so many.

Did you get the two home run balls back from the first two at bats?

EVAN LONGORIA: I don't know if I did. I don't know if wince key got them or who got them. I met the people who actually caught the balls and I signed a couple balls for them, but I don't know where the home run balls are.

What was the level of negotiation? What were they the thinking those things were worth to you as that was going back and forth.?

EVAN LONGORIA: The fans in St. Pete are usually pretty good. They usually just give the balls up and I sign one for them. The maybe if I get a little bit bigger or, you know, the home runs become a little more meaningful there will be more collateral. (Laughter.)

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